The guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the TV show ‘Hee Haw’ for nearly a quarter century died Thursday.
Country star Roy Clark, the guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the cornpone TV show Hee Haw for nearly a quarter century and was known for such hits as “Yesterday When I was Young” and “Honeymoon Feeling,” has died. He was 85.
Publicist Jeremy Westby said Clark died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla.
Clark was Hee Haw host or co-host for its entire 24-year run, with Buck Owens his best known co-host. The country music and comedy show’s last episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter.
“Hee Haw won’t go away. It brings a smile to too many faces,” he said in 2004, when the show was distributed on VHS and DVD for the first time.
Clark played the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments. His skills brought him gigs as guest performer with many top orchestras, including the Boston Pops. In 1976 he headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.
And of course, he also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
His hits included “The Tips of My Fingers” (1963), “Yesterday When I Was Young” (1969), “Come Live With Me” (1973) and “Honeymoon Feeling” (1974). He was also known for his instrumental versions of “Malaguena,” on 12-string guitar, and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and emotionally told the crowd how moving it was “just to be associated yourself with the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and imagine that your name will be said right along with all the list.”
In his 1994 autobiography, “My Life in Spite of Myself,” he said “Yesterday, When I Was Young” had “opened a lot of people’s eyes not only to what I could do but to the whole fertile and still largely untapped field of country music, from the Glen Campbells and the Kenny Rogerses, right on through to the Garth Brookses and Vince Gills.”
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Dang! In 1963 I bought Roy’s first guitar instrumental LP. His lightning fingers never missed a note and he made it all look so easy decade after decade. When Roy was pickin’ I was grinnin’. He didn’t write this but he made it a hit and one of my favourites:
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue
The time has come for me to pay for
Yesterday, when I was young
Always enjoyed him on Hee Haw.